...said one guy on Twitter after I said white guys breaking the law should be shot at the same rate, and for the same reasons as black/brown guys were.
Thus missing the point I was making. So here's a clarification. It is clear that in similar situations, white guys (all genders) are less likely to be killed in an encounter with law enforcement than black/brown guys. Less likely to be stopped, hassled, questioned, thrown on the ground or up against a wall...and less likely to die from the actions of law enforcement. It is clear that law enforcement cannot assess threat situationally, without the bias of skin color. Like many others, they perceive dark individuals as older, larger, and more dangerous than light-skinned individuals of the same age and size. This starts in very early childhood: dark-skinned children are judged to be older, larger, and more dangerous...and are punished more severely in school and society for the same behaviors, and that goes all the way up. It is enshrined in the supposedly automated sentencing recommendations that judges receive--supposedly even-handed assessments of a convicted person's likelihood of committing another crime...because the conditions under which many people of color live (from the location--bad neighborhood, to the family income (below poverty-level--bad) then become reasons for denying bail or lengthening a jail or prison sentence.
Now I would prefer to see zero people killed. I've seen people die from violence (worked on an ambulance crew for awhile.) It's not pretty. I've seen drunks, drug addicts, people who've shot themselves or tried to kill themselves another way, people who've been shot, burned, stabbed, hit with fists, rocks, beer bottles, and various other items. I have vivid memories of many deaths sitting there in my head; I know the smell of blood and perforated guts (shotgun blast, among other things.) Some people consider all official deaths bad: they oppose the death penalty, and think every death caused by official action unjustified. I don't. I think if some person is shooting up a school or church or post office, and a policeman can kill the shooter before the shooter hits someone else...that's OK. I'm not entirely opposed to the death penalty, though less in favor than I used to be, because I now know that police and prosecution may both lie, and innocents have been sentenced to death as a result. Many of them persons of color, who almost never get their cases retried even when there's exculpatory evidence. Some prosecutors will bend themselves into a pretzel to avoid admitting they made a mistake (or falsified evidence, like a former D.A. and judge in this very county. (The innocent man in that case spent decades in prison, estranged from his children, before finally being released...and he was white.)
Today's news: the continuing attacks on Native Americans trying to protect their land and resources, with enormous pressure by police coincided with the acquittal of the white cult members who have repeatedly refused to obey the laws regarding use of federal lands, including directly threatening to kill law officers who tried to enforce it (by removing the cattle illegally grazing on federal range that the owner had refused to pay user-fees on.) It has been clear from day one that Cliven Bundy was given years of leeway before the BLM moved in to get his cattle--and that his well-armed supporters, who promised to shoot the BLM personnel, had not been impeded in setting up an armed blockade on a public highway. In other words, law enforcement did damn all to enforce the law. Much the same happened in Oregon: armed men invaded and occupied public land, trashed the building, killed animals, cut fences, destroyed and defaced a Native American sacred place which the federal government had said it would protect...and law enforcement (local, state, federal) did nothing to stop them...days, weeks, etc. I said then, and I say again, that the better choice would have been to move in a real, effective force and get those cattle out of there (or shoot them) and if Bundy and his buddies wanted to have a war--have it then. I said when the Malheur invasion started that it should have been dealt with quickly, and completely. Because every time those white anti-government types get away with breaking the law and threatening others, they feel stronger and they set up to do it again. But no. Not only did they get to hang around causing untold damage until they were tired of it, but now they've been acquitted. Because white.
Do I want to see white guys killed? No...but if black and brown guys are going to get killed for taking part in a march or a sit-in, then...I do want to see the same treatment handed to white guys. If black or brown guys are going to be attacked and arrested for "trespassing" then white guys should also be met with the same level of force when they occupy public lands. If black or brown guys are going to be shot in the back while standing by a car with their hands in sight, unarmed...then I want to see that the same treatment is given to white guys. Because that's just fair. I would rather that no unarmed person was shot by police...that no man with leg braces was knocked down and kicked and had his braced stomped by police...that no deaf man was shot in the back for not stopping (you can't obey an order you can't hear, if you can't see the person giving it), that no little boy with a BB gun was shot by police, that no woman opening the door for police (because the mentally disturbed man was afraid to) was shot because she was "in the way."...but if those things are going to happen to black guys, then let them happen to white guys, too.
Or--far better--quit killing black guys who aren't armed. Quit shooting black kids. Quit dragging black girls out of their chair by the hair and slamming them on the floor. Quit making excuses for doing things to black/brown people that you wouldn't do to white people. No, that kid does not look 11 when he's 6. No, Eric Garner wasn't pretending to be choking: he was choking. If he'd been Rush Limbaugh (also very overweight at that time) would it have been OK to choke him to death and excuse it as "If he wasn't so fat..."? Recognize that a white skin does not entitle anyone to differential treatment under the law. And if shaking loose the engrained certainty of white entitlement requires talking about white guys getting shot for the same actions...so be it. If it makes one person think--it's worth it.
I want to see equitable enforcement of the law. Fair enforcemen of the law. No more letting some white teenager off after drunkenly running his/her car into people because "he has a good family" or "he suffers from affluenza"; no more letting the white college rapist off because "prison would ruin his future"--while prosecuting black/brown drunk drivers and black/brown rapists to the fullest extent and labeling them as "monsters" and "thugs." I want every law officer to consider, when dealing with a white person: "How would I react if he/she were black/brown?" and when dealing with a black/brown person "How would I react if he/she were white?"....and then bring those two ideas of "how to react" closer together, so that every person, of every color, is treated the same in the same situation. To think about this, seriously consider this, over and over. To consider that not everyone has perfect hearing, perfect eyesight, and faster-than-average reflexes--in order to be able to instantly follow an order from a stranger. To remember that some people are physically unable to comply with an order that requires an unusual movement and that if you scare people, they may be unable to do anything for several long seconds. To remember that most men carry their wallets in pants pockets...so "he reached for his waist" can be the compliant response to an order to "show me your identification." To be familiar with how non-criminal persons move (if you call their name, or yell at them from behind, they'll likely to turn around--and if they didn't understand, they will step toward you. It is not an aggressive act.)
Some law officers ARE fair. But every one that is not damages the reputation of not only his/her local police, but all police. Every one who assumes that the white guy is the victim and the brown/black guy is the attacker. Every prosecutor who jumps to conclusion, who looks only for those things that "prove" his/her chosen suspect guilty, every judge who prejudges the defendent and assumes the guidelines tell the whole story...corrupts the justice system. Makes it unjust. Unfair. And right now the law and its enforcement is unfair.
So I ask those shocked at the very thought that someone might "want to see white guys die"...to consider why they aren't shocked at the thought of seeing *anybody* die. Why they tolerate so many black and brown deaths. Why they can't recognize that under that skin--any color of skin--is the same body, the same bones and muscles and tendons and blood vessels...the same heart and lungs and stomach and gallbladder and liver and spleen, the same guts, the same genitalia. Why they can't see their fellow citizens--all of them, all sizes, all genders, all colors of skin, all abilities and disabilities--as fully human. As people with a history, a geneology, just as long as their own...as people with past experience that shapes their actions and motivations, just like their own...as people with needs (real needs, not imaginary ones), with desires, ambitions, hopes, fears, just like their own. Why didn't a teacher, before calling in the school police officer, ask that girl *why* she was so determined to check her cellphone (her mother was in the hospital, possibly dying...and a moment of empathy, understanding, would have taught the class a healthier lesson than seeing the girl dragged and slammed to the floor.) Why didn't the teacher, on seeing the boy's science project, ask "How does that work?" instead of assuming a clock was a bomb? Because they didn't see those kids as fully human, people who might have a legitimate reason for what they did. That must change. If you're shocked, take that shock out of the closet of your assumptions and hang it out in the sunlight to air. You're not the only human on the planet. Your family is not the only family; your neighborhood is not the only neighborhood; your religion is not the only religion...and every other human on the planet is you, behind a different mask.
Comments are disabled.